But what if you're not a Leaf fan? Well, two things. First, lucky you. And second, there's a good chance you'll still have to deal with one of us eventually. And that's bad news, because these days Leaf fans are probably the most pathetic and depressing group of people you could imagine.
We know it. And we know that it has to be awkward to run into one of us. After all, what can you say? What could you possibly do to make one of wretched souls feel better about this mess? How can you avoid accidentally saying the wrong thing and winding up with your picture on the front page of tomorrow's newspaper?
It's not easy. But there is a right way and a wrong way to approach a Leafs fan these days. And the crucial first step is to figure out what type of Leaf fan you're dealing with. After all, we're a pretty varied group.
I'm here to help. So I've created this handy guide that separates Leafs nation into ten distinct groups. Use this information to figure out what type of fan you've encountered, and then follow my advice to avoid making a bad situation even worse.
Mr. Mood Swing
Description - This guy's entire mood is based around the most recent Leaf game. Or period. Or shift. When they win, he's convinced everything could still be OK. When they lose, he's despondent. When they lose in overtime, he's not sure how to feel. Thanks, Bettman.
How to recognize him - The wall behind his television has a lot of beer bottle sized holes in it.
What to do if you see one - Assuming the Leafs recently lost (and let's face it, they did), pull the fire alarm and flee the building.
The Self Loather
Description - This guy hates himself, and wants to be miserable. He craves pain, since its icy sting is the only thing that reminds him he's alive. So naturally, he's chosen to become a Leafs fan.
How to recognize him - You'll find him in his natural habitat: writing positive comments on Damien Cox blog posts.
What to do if you see one - This is the only type of Leaf fan that you're allowed to discuss the most recent loss with. Also, make a mental note to buy him Leafs Abomination for Christmas.
Description - A small but tragic group. Due to an acute exposure level to off-season Brian Burke soundbites, they're no longer able to form a complete sentence without using the word "truculence". (Note: Every single Leaf fan went through this phase in September, but most have pulled out of it.)
How to recognize him - He owns a Colton Orr jersey.
What to do if you see one - Do not, under any circumstances, ask him what the word means. He doesn't know, and you might wind up getting your face Matt Carkner-ized.
"Just One Cup" Guy
Description - This fan has already cut a deal: he wants to see the Leafs win one Stanley Cup before he dies. Just one. This little Faustian bargain gives him a sense of inner peace since he knows he has time, and the laws of probability, working in his favor.
How to recognize him - He says things like "wait 'til next decade".
What to do if you see one - Ask him if he enjoyed Bill Simmons' "Now I Can Die in Peace", which he's guaranteed to have read.
"Just One Cup" Guy Who's Getting Older
Description - A subset of the "Just One Cup" Guy group, this Leaf fan is between the ages of 30 and 42. He's never seen the Leafs win a Cup, but always just assumed that he would some day. But now he's getting older, he's sore in the morning for no reason, and he has hair growing out of his ears. And he's starting to worry.
How to recognize him - Every time the Leafs lose, he does an hour on the treadmill.
What to do if you see one - Tell him you read a fascinating article about cryonic suspension.
Description - This Leaf fan is young. He vaguely remembers the Pat Burns era, has no memory of Harold Ballard, and is still getting used to not having Mats Sundin around.
How to recognize him - He doesn't have that beaten-down Mel Gibson mugshot look in his eyes that every other Leaf fan does.
What to do if you see one - Leave him alone. He'll be miserable like the rest of us in a few years.
The Bandwagon Jumper
Description - This guy is a diehard Leaf fans... as long as they're winning. He loved the Burns era, and was a big fan of Pat Quinn. He has no idea that Kirk Muller ever played for the Leafs, but he owns three Doug Gilmour jerseys. He swears he's a Leaf fan, but admits that he also has a few other favorite teams. He probably cheered for the Senators in 2007.
How to recognize him - Right now? You won't.
What to do if you see one - Stab him. Repeatedly.
Description - This guy wants the Leafs to win, and they would, dammit, if they'd just listen to him. He has the blueprint all laid out. And he wants to tell you all about it. In detail.
How to recognize him - He's probably posting a trade proposal thread at hfboards.com right now.
What to do if you see one - Listen patiently to his explanation of why a Stajan/Blake/White package could probably land Ilya Kovalchuk and a pick, nod pensively, then encourage him to phone a radio call-in show to reach a wider audience.
The Delusional Idiot
Description - This fan sincerely believes that the Leafs will win the Stanley Cup every year. No matter how bad things are, how thin the roster, how glaringly obvious the holes are to anyone who can breathe through their nose -- this guy is utterly convinced that ultimate glory is right around the corner. He thinks that nobody associated with the Leafs can do any wrong, and will never criticize the team. When the team wins two games in a row, this pathetic loser runs around shouting "Plan the parade!"
How to recognize him - You won't. He's a fictional character created by Howard Berger.
What to do if you see one - Tell him to say hi to the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Berger's limo driver.
Description - This guy is a true blue fan. But unlike the unfair various stereotypes of the passionate fan, he's still able to view the world objectively. His longterm outlook isn't clouded by short-term emotional swings, but rather by a steeley-eyed realism based on a rational analysis of the Toronto Maple Leafs' current performance and chances for future success.
How to recognize him - He shot himself after the Calgary game.
What to do if you see one - Try to wait until after the holidays before you hit on his girlfriend.